The Down House at The Funk Den, by Estefany GonzalezThe Down House (photos: Estefany Gonzalez)

To the untrained eye, the North Bay may come off as wineland or a foodie’s paradise. While yes, those are aspects of the North Bay, there’s so much more to the area.

The underground music movement is, by far, one of the most unique and creative aspects. To locals, it’s a community full of artist and musicians that offers a hometown vibe. At night, local artists and music lovers gather in unconventional spaces to showcase local talent and support up-and-coming musicians. On average, there are about one to two shows a week, with anywhere from three to four different DIY concerts on the same night during the summer.

OVVN at The Oarchard House, by Estefany GonzalezOVVN at The Orchard House

The lack of all-ages venues created a need for these concerts. The area includes Napa, Healdsburg, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Novato, and San Rafael, with the highest concentration of DIY shows in Santa Rosa.

Though the Arlene Francis Center, Phoenix Theater, and Atlas Coffee host various local concerts, there just weren’t enough venues to showcase all of the amazing musicians living and working in the North Bay.

Kalei Yamanoha at a singer song writer house, by Estefany GonzalezKalei Yamanoha at a singer-songwriter house

The wide range of artists living in the area creates diverse settings for these shows. Often, you’ll see singer-songwriter houses, which showcase Americana-style acts such as The Crux, Rags, and Buck-Thrifty. At these houses, you’ll likely find throw pillows and blankets on the floor. You’ll be welcome to lay on the floor, listen to music and maybe even drink some wine. The ambiance is mellow and focused on the music.

The Oarchard House, by Estefany GonzalezThe Orchard House

Other houses feature artists like OVVN, The Down House, and Red Wood. Most of these houses start music early and end by 10pm to appease noise ordinances.

The Oarchard House, by Estefany GonzalezOutside at The Orchard House

These shows offer a more social aspect to them. You’ll often see attendees sharing a tall can with friends and cramming into small garages with carpets coating the walls or DIY soundproofing. The community vibe is alive and vibrant at these shows. The house owners might even host a cookout before a show so music lovers can mingle.

Timmy Lodhai and Kate Hayden at The Oarchard House, by Estefany GonzalezTimmy Lodhai and Kate Hayden at The Orchard House

Regardless of the genre, house shows allow members of the community to come together, enjoy live music, and form new friendships. This summer, we chatted with  Bay Area residents and attended various house shows so you too could see what makes this area blossom.

Check out Estefany’s mini-documentary covering the North Bay’s house show scene below.